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From a discussion on the TALO list (http://groups.google.com.au/group/teachAndLearnOnline/)

Machine Bits:

1) Leigh Blackall
Anyone else noticing how bloody slow Flickr and Del.icio.us is these days? Wouldn't be anything to do with those yahoos and their servers would it? Isn't this all our local IT guys need to say, "see, we told you so! You can't rely on Google and Yahoo, you should rely on me, Sam and our Microsoft servers instead!"

2) Peter Allen
Actually this is an issue that needs addressing.

If we build our "castles in the air" using web 2.0 resources - we have no control over the reliability or availability of those tools or teaching resources. If we use Ning to build some amazing mash-up that we want to use again and again. What do we do when Ning goes "bottom up"?

- or flickr disappears or gets replaced by a version that requires payment?

I like the idea of a distributing learning across a number of services available across the 'net - but it has its risks. - I think it also assumes a high level of competence from your students.

Webhosting sites eg hostrocket give you the ability to build a site that can supply your students the essential stuff (Moodle, payment gateway, blogs, wikis ) and then you could link out to other services. but you would need to have a backup plan in case your external resources become unavailable.

You could offer your students a range of choices on how a particular exercise in course might be done, this would perhaps allow you to cater for different learning styles , and, avoid a single-point-of-failure in your online./ blended course.

3) James Neill
I think its equally fair to ask what happens when school Ding or institution Zing goes belly up - where do the resources end up then? I would also say that in my experience overall downtime for learning institution-managed resources is greater than for externally hosted content - a broad claim and obviously there's exceptions, but I know which basket I prefer to put my eggs in and that's not under lock & key by a single institution. By making sure learning content is robot-crawled, Google cache at least gives pretty good access to text/image pages even when the host server is down.

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